Saturday, March 31, 2012
Saturday Pantry Suggestions
This past week, I've been thinking about the Pantry Lifestyle and how at times we must accomplish more doing and less buying. Especially when we find we must economize and get the most out of each dollar.
So... I found myself pondering some of the ways I've learned to do instead of the usual stocking up of food and essentials in the past. Below are a few of the lessons learned, especially in the lean years.
Organize what you already have
Just this past week I found myself hanging over the side of my deep freeze, seriously hoping I didn't fall in the bottom! I was looking for something specific but in the search for that item, I found two sale beef roasts and one plastic grocery sack of frozen veggies I'd purchased at a 10 for $10.00 sale.
Now, I don't have a big deep freeze neither do I have the budget to purchase food at the grocery store and forget about it... but I indeed had with these items. So, while I was there I took out all the bags, sorted through them, and replaced some items to find quicker. It took only about ten or fifteen minutes but now I know what is available.
One of my "must do" items this Spring (before it is hot) is to sort through the canned goods on my shelves to see what I have, what I need, and get rid of what I won't use (given to a food pantry).
This is especially important when hotter weather is on the way if you keep your pantry in the garage (like I do). Our season of really hot weather is usually short but I still don't want items to sit in the garage forgotten. I also no longer have a very deep pantry so it is not financially wise to let food sit too long and degrade. I'll write on another post about how long I keep items in the pantry.
By doing instead of buying, especially when our shelves are a mess, we save ourselves so much time and money. As long as I've been doing this, I am embarrassed to say how many times I bought something new at the grocery store only to find I had two or three already on a back shelf. Which is fine if it is a can of peaches but not so good if it is Dijon mustard (two jars will last a year).
Start or revise a pantry list
I know I talked about this recently but it SO important to keep a pantry list (separate from your regular grocery list) in an easy place to write items when you think of them.
Items you normally keep in the pantry but need to stock up on during the next sale can go on your regular grocery list. The pantry list is a place to write down items you want to add to your pantry (or garage, etc.) that you may have not thought about before or you don't use regularly.
Of course, you will eventually need to add these to your regular list as you budget for them. For instance, some of the items I have added to this list (other than food) are oil for my lamps (I hadn't used them in years), pails from the bakery, matches, small battery operated radio, extra inexpensive reading glasses, "extra" medication, and various "how to" books. Which leads me to...
Start or continue a homemaking library
I remember reading as a young bride about the importance of building a homemaker's library. Of course, you know me... I need no excuse to buy a book! However, when the budget is limited it may seem like a book is the last thing you need.
I can assure you that over the years, I keep going back to those books I collected early in my marriage as well as later additions. I did give Stephanie a lot of books which I no longer needed (I am past the child rearing years) but I get to visit them once in awhile.
I have books on decorating, cooking (Can you have too many cookbooks? If so, don't tell me.), gardening in general, flowers, composting, homesteading, deepening the pantry, sewing, quilting, emergency preparedness, surviving after a disaster, and a signed copy of what I consider the BEST "preparedness" books called Dare to Prepare... among others.
Some of the best books on various subjects have not been obvious in the beginning. For instance, I learned a lot about frugal cooking and hospitality from Edith Schaeffer's books and many of us have learned how to live in hard times while reading The Long Winter, one of the "Little House" books.
I have often found such books at garage sales, library sales, Goodwill, and online at very inexpensive prices. If I live to be a hundred years old, I will still be collecting books such as those above. There is always something new to learn. :)
Invest in classes
Okay, some of these may cost money but I have found over the years that money spent on learning something new has always been a good investment and many have continued to be useful years later. Barring a brain injury or disease, what you learn (and subsequently use) will stay with you.
Also, I know in my community there are very inexpensive classes offered for gardening, ethnic cooking, preserving food, etc. by various schools and organizations.
Here are just a couple ideas from my own experience.:
I took quite a few gourmet cooking classes as a young wife (and one recently) where I learned the basics of cooking in those classes which I still use in the kitchen today.
I rarely cook anything fancy these days but I learned in gourmet cooking classes that chefs (for the most part) use the same ingredients I can buy at the grocery store and the classes taught me how to prepare them, cook them, and serve them at their best.
I only took two classes in flower arranging but that was all I needed to make a grocery store bouquet look beautiful (although I do admit I also love the look of just sticking them in a vase... as is).
There is so much available these days, not only with in-person classes but through DVDs and the Internet. It's suppose to be good for the brain to continue learning through the years. My brain is getting exercised these days in learning to garden better.
Okay, that's all for this week... time to get out to that garden of which I write.
Picture: Three Hens with Coop